For more than a century, T. Hasegawa has made “Life Taste Better” through custom flavors and fragrances developed for the world’s top food and beverage brands.

T. Hasegawa is recognized around the world for its innovation and product differentiation, which builds our clients’ product flavor to unparalleled standards. Through a passion for culinary creation and a strong faith in the power of aroma and taste, T. Hasegawa’s flavor experts work to improve the way we experience food and beverages.

Most recently, T. Hasegawa researchers have prepared an extensive “Flavor Flash” report with insights regarding protein trends—and how they intersect with flavor. Here are a few of T. Hasegawa’s findings.

• Restaurant menus are evolving the palates of younger consumers. Gen Z and Millennial consumers are opting for greater diversity in their cuisine, reaching for a mix of mainstream and emerging cuisines with complex flavor profiles featuring mix of head and sweet, smoky notes and botanicals all gaining traction. Millennial consumers are statistically the most prolific foodservice patrons, and restaurant menus continue to influence flavor trends. 

• Plant-based protein alternatives are gaining traction – particularly among parents. According to a recent Mintel survey, 47% of parents with children under 18 are eating plant-based proteins more than they were last year. Parents seek out products that help keep the household healthy, both nutritionally and even emotionally, without sacrificing convenience. As sophisticated flavor development improves the taste and experience of plant-based proteins, these products are becoming more mainstream and expanding from foodservice to packaged foods. 

• Older consumers prefer traditional protein flavors, while younger consumers seek out hotter flavors. In a 2021 Mintel survey, Gen X consumers preferred traditional protein flavors like Barbecue, Teriyaki Garlic and Mesquite more than Millennial and Gen Z, while these younger consumers had a higher preference for spicy protein flavors like chipotle, jalapeno, and fajita than Gen X. 

• Seafood and poultry still represent the healthiest protein options for most consumers. Around half of consumers in a 2020 survey associated seafood and poultry with being “healthy,” and plant-based proteins not far behind (41% of those polled). Red meats like beef and pork were only cited by 25% of participants as being healthy. As North Americans increasingly focus on healthier food options, food brands can take advantage of the implied health association of poultry and seafood in producing popular new flavors. 

• Flavors are still the driving force in proteins. More than 64% of consumers in a 2021 Mintel survey agreed that the right marinade can make any cut of meat taste great, and more than 47% agreed that how they flavor their protein guides the entire rest of the meal (such as sauces and sides). 

• Proteins keep growing in the snack category. In recent years, meat snacks have found strong growth, as consumers increasingly turn toward low-carb, high-protein diets. The result is a growing market of satiating meat snacks driven by rich, complex flavors like smoky and spicy. 

• Global flavors continue to drive innovation in the protein category. Consumer interest in international cuisine continues to grow, as these foods offer an exotic experience and rich flavor profile. Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors are particularly popular right now, with increased interest in Shawarma, Harissa, Peri Peri and Za’atar over the past year. 

• Rise in home cooking points to flavor opportunities in proteins. It’s no surprise that the pandemic shifted food habits for many consumers, with a huge increase in at-home cooking starting in 2020. But research indicates this trend isn’t going away, post-COVID. Many consumers – particularly Gen Z and Millennials – are still actively cooking and baking more at home than a year ago. As the center-of-the-plate, proteins play an important role in keeping consumers engaged and cooking in the kitchen.

Learn more about T. Hasegawa’s flavor and protein trends.